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"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, keep moving."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nächster Ultramarathon

Dear Lars, Stephan, Phil and Henrik; here is a small summary of how we experiensed the 1. quarter (6500km) of the run.
I (J.) try to concentrate on analysis of the things not mentioned in the daily reports: dealing mentally w. the distance, contry mentalities & group dynamics.
- you are most wellcome to use it at your ultrarunning websites (Henrik: as you choose) and you can ofcourse link or copy pictures from our web w. reference.

Here goes, with best wishes, :-)

Jesper Olsen and Alexander Korotkov , 06. Juni 2004

World Run - 1/4 distance report

- After an 11day stop due to injury we finally got moving and reached the 1/4 distance point 3 days later. After 6500km and 5 months of European, Scandinavian, Russian and Siberian running & living.
Our main experiense is that the running itself is easier than expected. This despite our many small injuries and Alexanders big injury in Siberia.
However the simple living & mental dealing w. the bulk of the distance - and getting the group to work - is not allways without its difficulties:


The main problem (besides economics ;-) is coping w. the perspective of about 1,5 y. of 'forward running' !
As we experiense it, there has so far been 4 distinct phases:
The first 3 weeks; the European 2months; entering Russia and the Ural Mountains. (Siberia is still far from over so I leave that till next time...).
In the first weeks we had a mental surplus due to the exitement of finally moving after 2 y. of planning. But we honestly was a bit afraid if we could fysically & logistically meet the requirements of our run.
The legs, ofcourse, was getting more and more tired untill they after ~ 2 weeks began to respond positively and adapt to the 5-6h. daily running w. the 40kg babyjogger.

After this began a 'stability phase' that lasted through Europe & Scandinavia. The daily living and running became routine - on good & bad. We at many times felt like the surrounding societies could be that of another planet; becaure we like a stone-age variant of modern day astronauts (;-) daily travelled among people that we increasingly was becoming different from in terms of comfort (our tents), security (none), information (minimal) and goals (running 1,5 y.) ! Not as easy a situation as it might sound.
But now our physical condition was improving, and the stages went from mostly "getting through it" to beginning to attack' the stages at the last 10km or 1hour every day.

Also we every 1 or 2 weeks ran across the border to a new contry (8 contries in first two months) so it gave a clear feeling of steady progress. And this is obviously important for the mental 'appetite' for the daily km of running.

This abruptly changed as we reached the Russian border after a joyfull run in Finland: now suddenly a gap of 7months and 10 000km lay in the snowy roads in front of us !!!
- Alex. handled it pretty ok (but had developed an injury that now increased) and had the goal of meeting his family in St.Petersburg :-)
I, however, totally lost energy about 1km after the border (10km into this 70km stage) and on 2 occations sat down in the roadside snow and contemplated the situation for 4-5 min.'s. Not exactly ideal in -10c.
Still; after 55km of weak running at an unusual 7,5 min./km I caught sign of the first directions to Výborg (1. Rus. roadside city); changed pace back to ~5:50 min./km and began tackling Russia city by city: Výborg - St.Petersburg - Moscow - Niszhy Nowgorod - Kazan - Ufa - Omsk ... And the legs became ok again !
- I think this illustrates the old story of how much ultrarunning is a 'mental sport' - raughter than a fysical ! :-)

The 4.phase confirms this: when we reached the first rolling hills of Ural we got inspired, delighted by the landscape - and began attacking the stages from km1 & 'duelling' on speed and mountain running skills. Not very logical, unless you take into account the factor of pure running joy and inspiration :-)

Contries & mentalities

So far Finland has by a huge margin been the most positive experience !!
The support, friendliness, interest and warm wellcome EVERY day of our running was simply outstanding. Even more so as we didnt have any contacts there untill just before our start.
But most other contries has also been v. positive. Another example is Holland, where we met big friendship from non-runners & the ultrarunner Krijn Kroetzen. The dutch seem much like the finns' in mentality. Perhaps due to about eq. size, pop. and international outlook?
Still, when all this is said, Russia remains the enigma that it perhaps allways is: on one hand extremely helpfull local sportscomitties & small village people friendly, filosofic & poetic ! Especially in Siberia !!
On the other hand I begin to understand more of the reasons why the old system collapsed: talent of organisation and sense of time & priorities seem v. special to put it diplomaticly and a firm stubborness presides.
But it probably is partly due to the past 90 y. history (USSR) as well as the natural mentality of a contry this large. Coming from small europe (!) time & planning is more easy.
Here ... if it dont happen today it may happen next year or two, or 20 .. so why bother w. plans that anyways will be changed 10 times & get lost before they become reality. Not quite the strict '5 year plan' system I learned about in school. Now I hear it, at best, worked untill 1970-80, when the sys. failed to adjust.
Besides the big cities it seems that the sys. is still unchanged.

Group dynamics

Shortly it can be said that a group of two is easy; more is complicated - but rewarding !
We have much help from our Russian stage runner Kazuka from Japan and our supply-driver Rachenka (Rus.).
- and many interesting challenges as we are all strong individualists (even anarcists at times ;-)
So far the only big problems have been when outside helpers or stage runners has misunderstood and thourght they should take over command. This especially was the case during 5 days in the Tver Region in Rus. (see daily reports for details).

Well; thats all for now. We got to catch some sleep & get ready for the next stage !
- with our best wishes to 'Kondis', 'Ultrafondus' & 'Steppenhahn.de' :-)
Jesper and Alexander,
world run, Siberia.

© Jesper Olsen and Alexander Korotkov , 06. Juni 2004